Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Red Lines for Iran

No-kidding red lines: US response may be bluster, but Israel's won't be
Frank J. Gaffney Jr

Don't do it." That is the message American officials, from President Obama on down, are delivering to their Israeli counterparts in the hope of dissuading the Jewish state from taking a fateful step: attacking Iran to prevent the mullahs' imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons.

This week, the nation's top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey, will visit Israel to convey the same message in person. [T]he general will deliver an insistent warning that Israel must give sanctions more time to work and refrain from acting unilaterally.

Such warnings have become shriller as evidence accumulates that Israel is getting ready to move beyond what is widely believed to be a series of successful - but insufficient - covert actions against the Iranian nuclear program, missile forces and associated personnel.

Some U.S. officials reportedly think the Israelis are just posturing. As one put it, they are playing out a "hold me back" gambit - perhaps hoping the Americans will do the job themselves or at least hoping to be rewarded for their restraint.

Others point, however, to evidence that the Israelis are concealing key military movements from our intelligence assets as an indicator that they are going for it and want to keep us from interfering. At a minimum, Jerusalem would have to worry that an American administration that is holding secret negotiations with Tehran in Turkey at the level of Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns would seek to curry favor with the mullahs by compromising any information it obtains about Israel's intentions.

The difference between the American and Israeli red lines is that the Israelis actually may take seriously the breaching of theirs. Presumably, that would be because the government of Israel has drawn them so as to define existential threats to the state, not simply as a matter of rhetorical posturing intended mostly for domestic political consumption.

The likelihood for such action can only have grown as a result of the contempt with which Mr. Obama has treated Israel, our most important regional ally. Dissing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is one thing. Allowing our own red lines to be flouted with impunity signals that Israel is on its own and must proceed accordingly.

If we are going to stop the nightmare of a messianic regime armed with nuclear missiles, somebody had better do it soon - and with something more effective than sanctions. America should take the lead. However, if the Obama administration won't, it should get out of the Israelis' way.

[Jewish World Review]


LHwrites said...

This is a speculative article filled with inflammatory rhetoric. Back in the days of George W. Bush whenever anyone criticized the president they were called unpatriotic. These days every Republican and conservative author, talk show host and pundit say whatever they like about Obama despite the lack of veracity. Obama has been as good a protector and supplier to Israel as any president. His rhetoric has been blunter and possibly misguided at times, but his actions have spoken louder and on behalf of Israel. The world is not the same place as it was in the 70's and 80's and neither is the MidEast. It is not clear Israel has the technology tor each the nuclear assets of Iran and it is unclear what the reactions of China and Russia would be to such an assault. Obama has not allowed Iran to pass any red lines, he was simply not drawing that many until now. It is ridiculous to imply the US would betray Israel's plans to attack Iran in order to help with negotiations. Obama has done more than any other president to reign in Iran. Carter was ineffectual, Regan did not address it, Iraq cowed Iran throughout the Regan years. W. Bush empowered Iran and freed them from their constant nemesis; an Iraq led by Hussein. To say Obama is not doing enough when he is trying to pick up the pieces of the mess created in the MidEast during the previous administration, while trying to get the economy out of the deepest recession since the depression, while dealing with treasonous Republicans who announced their plans to get him out of office the moment they were elected, to his addressing the plights of the uninsured and unemployed is a bit disingenuous since we did not hear any such complaints when the deficit train began with the previous administration, the empowerment of Iran began there, the recession began there and the plights of the uninsured were ignored there. From Iran's reaction it is clear the new sanctions and the rhetoric behind it is making Iran look at its decisions very hard. A raid by Israel, especially an ineffective one, might lay the groundwork for an official alliance for Iran with Russia and China giving them protection like we afford Israel and making it impossible to ensure reigning in their nuclear ambitions in the future.

Bruce said...

I don't know Mr. Gaffney's background, but the article did not strike me as the least bit partisan. Just reasonable analysis.

It's hard to know what's going on behind the scenes, but Hillary Clinton provided a clue with her public distancing last week, from the killing of an Iranian nuke scientist.

That was unprofessional, exceedingly foolish. It also isolated Israel [assuming they did it]. An administration that understood the power and diplomatic importance of threat, would not have acted as they did.

LHwrites said...

Actions speak louder than words. No civilized government is going to take credit for assassination. Whether one is silent, Israel, or denies, the U.S., evidence will either point to you or it will not. I do not think anything any country says, even to condemn such actions, are taken seriously if evidence points their way. I do not think Iran is saying, "weak Americans, we thought they committed this outrage until Clinton foolishly denied it!"

Bruce said...

In the diplomatic sense, words are exceedingly loud. Clinton and Obama are communicating division between the US and Israel...that only weakens the message to Iran. Very foolish. Clinton is turning out to be as big a disappointment as her boss.